Wisconsin Politician Forced to Return $100 Bitcoin Donation

Stan Higgins
May 5, 2014 at 22:50 UTC
Updated Feb 4, 2019 at 22:02 UTC

A politician from the US state of Wisconsin has returned a $100 bitcoin donation following guidance from the Government Accountability Board (GAB), a state-level campaign finance watchdog.

As first publicised by the Wisconsin Reporter, Alderman Mark Clear, who is running for a seat in the state legislature, returned the donation after the GAB decided to wait for a forthcoming decision from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as to the legality of such contributions.

The FEC announced in late April that it had postponed its decision on bitcoin donations until its next meeting on 8th May. Several FEC board members have voiced support for the acceptance of bitcoin contributions under the same rules as cash and with a limit of $100.

When asked about the reason behind the state-level regulatory delay, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney told the Wisconsin Reporter:

“The Board did not believe it needed to set a policy on bitcoin because bitcoin is not one of the forms of negotiable financial instruments authorized by state law for campaign contributions.”

Roadblock for bitcoin contributions

In an interview with Wisconsin Reporter, Clear remarked that the GAB approach to bitcoin was misguided, stating:

“I think the GAB needs to focus on the important parts of public disclosure. What the public wants to know is who the person is making a contribution and how much (rather than the method of transaction).”

It’s not clear whether or not the GAB will make a decision on state-level bitcoin donations until after this election cycle.

Complicating the matter is the GAB’s lack of action on bitcoin. Some members of the board commented at the organization’s March gathering that a decision may not be necessary regardless of the nature of any decision by the FEC.

Bitcoin’s evolving role in US politics

It remains to be seen whether or not the FEC green-lights the expanded use of bitcoin for campaign donations. In the meantime, however, several US politicians have begun to immerse themselves in the world of digital currency.

Other US politicians that have already announced the acceptance of bitcoin donations classify them as ‘in-kind’ donations. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for the Texas governorship, is one such candidate.

This policy toward bitcoin donations mirrors a decision by the FEC last year allowing bitcoin in-kind donations.

For more on recent regulatory developments in the US and around the world, read our latest “Bitcoin Regulation Roundup.”

Collection of coins in donation jar via Shutterstock